Folding is a term used to describe the process of combining ingredients together gently without stirring, beating or otherwise agitating the mixture. It is a technique most commonly used when you are combining one or more ingredients that have already been whipped (such as egg whites or whipped cream). The term can also apply to a recipe that requires less mixing (for example, a tender crumb). Folding is usually executed with a rubber spatula for liquid and dry ingredients, or with a wire whisk for whipped cream and egg whites so that the mixture gently incorporates as it falls through the wires.
The first step in many of our baking recipes calls for: beating butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. But what does that actually mean and why do we need to do it?
The technique of beating or creaming butter and sugar (this also applies to shortening and margarine) lays the groundwork for your baked product. During this step, you’re incorporating air into your batter. This process will determine how the texture of your baked goods will turn out. The coarse sugar crystals cut into the butter creating air pockets, or bubbles. These bubbles are what will give your cake or cookie “lift” and rise (with the help of baking soda and/or baking powder). The air bubbles will also cause your butter/sugar mixture to lighten, or pale, in colour. The amount of bubbles created will depend on what tool you use to cream your batter (electric mixers will work better than a whisk) and how long you cream the batter (the longer, the more air bubbles).
Watch me demonstrate this baking technique: